More than 50 doctors, including a former U.S. Surgeon General, have formed a group promoting the legalization and regulation of marijuana, The Washington Post reports. Doctors for Cannabis Regulation (DFCR) endorses the legalization of marijuana for adult recreational use.
The group’s founder and board president is David L. Nathan, an associate professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School at Rutgers University. Honorary board members include former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders; H. Westley Clark, the former Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment; Donald I. Abrams, Chief of the Hematology-Oncology Division at San Francisco General Hospital; and Chris Beyrer, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and President of the International AIDS Society.
DFCR argues that marijuana is far less harmful for adults than alcohol and tobacco. “Cannabis can be harmful to minors, but prohibition doesn’t prevent children and teens from accessing the drug,” the group states on its website. DFCR also says the burden of marijuana prohibition “falls disproportionately upon communities of color and the nation’s poor.”
“You don’t have to be pro-marijuana to be opposed to its prohibition,” DFCR founder and board president David L. Nathan told the newspaper. He said his group does not advocate using marijuana. He acknowledged that about 9 percent of people who begin using marijuana as adults become dependent on the drug. He added heavy use can be especially harmful to the developing brains of teenagers. Nathan said the best way to manage marijuana’s risks is to regulate the drug.
Robert DuPont, the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, told The Washington Post, “The idea that we cannot manage the health problems related to marijuana because it’s illegal, that doctors are somehow inhibited from dealing with marijuana use and marijuana problems, is completely wrong. The idea that legalizing is going to stop the illegal market is equally stupid.”